Email has become the lifeblood of electronic commerce today. It didn't take long for fax machines to become entrenched in today's office environment. Email attained that status even more quickly.
Even people without their own personal Internet access at home now sign up for free email accounts at sites like HotMail and Yahoo! Email (where they have to take ads with their email but at least the ads are separate from the email itself!).
Junk email, variously known as "unsolicited commercial email" or "spam", costs the unscrupulous sender virtually nothing and causes aggravation to both the Internet infrastructure itself (by its copious quantity if nothing else) and to the end user (who must decide whether to painfully sort through all email received in his or her spam filter one by one to see if the message is from friend or "foe" or just delete the lot).
Yes, junk email messages can be deleted but not until valuable time and computer resources are essentially wasted.
The CAN SPAM act was passed in 2003 and is enforced by the FTC. See SpamLaws.com for an update on legislation in this area which has been introduced (but not passed) and more information on the CAN SPAM act.
For more information, see: